May 18, 2004
INDIANAPOLIS—The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ continue to work together to strengthen their relationship. On May 6, 2004, in meeting of a re-constituted Ecumenical Partnership Committee between the two groups, considerable time was devoted to receiving reports on a wide range of initiatives and programs that bring life and vitality to the partnership through congregational, regional and national arenas of the churches? life and mission. For example:
Disciples and UCCs are joining together in local communities to share in worship, witness, service, Bible study, youth programming, and in-training events of Christian education, especially in areas where both churches have similar numbers of congregations.
A major event is planned for a joint women's gathering, ?Mix in ?06,? bringing together the Disciples Quadrennial of the International CWF and the UCC's Office of Church Women.
All overseas mission work continues to be done together through our common Global Ministries.
Disciples? Regions and UCC Conferences in several places across the country, especially where there is overlap in geography and size, have moved forward in joint programming, leadership training events, and ministerial support.
Seminaries have opened their scholarship programs to students from the partner denomination and have developed joint programs for teaching courses on history and polity.
The Committee celebrated that more partnership activities and work was identified than had been anticipated. The Committee also recognized that there are still issues to be addressed both to strengthen current projects and relationships, and to stimulate and encourage partnership efforts at the general/national and regional/conference levels.
Broad areas of focus for the future were identified by the committee as that of ministry, especially around issues related to education, licensing, and standing; youth and young adult ministries; and common work in social justice and advocacy.
The committee also raised the question of proposing a third ?Common Gathering? of the Disciples General Assembly and the UCC General Synod. Because of current contractual commitments, the first date that such an event could take place would be in 2011.
Rev. Dr. John Thomas, the general ministering president of the United Church of Christ, in summarizing the day?s work, stated, ?There is more good news in our partnership than many of us in each denomination may know about or even expect. We need to build upon the exciting work already underway, as together we continue to give expression to the gift of unity and reconciliation that both of our churches claim at the heart of our identity, ethos, and witness.?The next meeting of this Partnership Committee is set for January 27-28, 2005 in Indianapolis.
Members of the Partnership Committee include:
For Disciples: Adonna Bowman (executive director, Office of Disciples Women), Sue Shadburne Call (congregational pastor, Downey Avenue Christian Church, Indianapolis), Timothy James (administrative secretary, National Convocation), Arnold Nelson (president, Disciples Home Mission), Rick Spleth (regional minister, Indiana), David Vargas (president, Overseas Ministries), Robert Welsh (ecumenical officer), Ann Willard (representative of CCU Board)
For UCC: Brian Cope (representative of Council for Ecumenism), Stephen Gray (conference minister, Indiana), Edith Guffey (associate general minister), Lynn Bujnak (ministerial formation director), John Thomas (general minister and president), Lydia Veliko (ecumenical officer), Olivia Masih White (executive minister, Wider Church Ministries)